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Old 5th March 2011, 17:49
Larry Hickey Larry Hickey is offline
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Larry Hickey
Need advice on data problem with British airmen's first names during the 1939-40 period

Hello,

Many of you are by now familiar with the "Eagles Over Europe" project (see the permanent EOE post at top of the Luftwaffe Board if you aren't) that is going forward to document in definitive detail on all sides the story of the air war in Europe from the beginning of the Polish Campaign 01.09.39 to the end of 1940. Presently, about 50 people from 13 countries, including many readers of this board, are cooperating and contributing their resources of time, translation skills, photo and document collections and expertise to this effort. The cooperation and support from within the aviation history community has been overwhelmingly, and the many readers of this board who have been involved have my deepest appreciation.

One of the underlying research efforts has been to establish a definitive all-source data base of all aircraft losses/damages, and all personnel injuries, deaths and MIA for all sides. Peter Cornwell, as many of you are aware, is, without doubt, the most knowledgable person on this subject in the world, and his published works in the field are well known. The results of his research has appeared many times on this board. After recently completing a definitive data base on the Luftwaffe side for the period, involving all theaters, and all incidents excepting training losses, the EOE Working Group (WG), with Peter coordinating and leading the research effort, is now going forward with the digitization of all previously published major sources for constructing a parallel data base for the British side. We have nearly completed the basic task of digitizing all major works relating to this subject for 1939-40, including all previous works by Peter on the subject, Bomber Command losses compiled by Chorley and Coastal Command losses by McNeill. We are also adding Royal Navy aviation-related losses from a variety of sources.

Now we have a basic decision to make. One of the major upgrades to Peter's previous Luftwaffe loss lists has been to add first names and crew positions to all listed personnel, which we've been able to achieve with about 99% completeness. I do not believe that crew positions are a major problem with the British data, but first names, as opposed to initials only, plus middle initials, are a very significant problem. Neither Chorley nor McNeill list first names in their published data, only first and middle initials, and Royal Navy sources, which we're just beginning to look at in detail, are expected to result in a similar problem. Peter wants to adopt a consistent standard for this, and barring a reasonable solution to this problem, is prepared to go forward with listing first and middle initials only, as he's done in his previous publications relating to the subject (including victory claims references). However, we both would prefer to add first names to all British listings, especially since we have done so on the German side, if we can consistently do so without adding hugely to our research problem in both time and expense.

Various Battle of Britain listings, all pretty much based on the original research of Holloway, contain this data for direct Battle of Britain participants and casualties, the CWGC data base has this for all those dead or missing, and various contemporary officer listings (for which Peter does not presently hold a copy) provide a great deal of this material, but to be definitive on this subject Peter is concerned that we will be reduced to having to tediously search for the missing first names by "trawling the (SQ) ORBs for names (time-comsuming & with no guarantee of success)." As many of you know, access to master British casualty files are restricted primarily to related family members.

So I'd like to appeal to the expertise and knowledge on this subject of our TOCH board readers to see what they might know that we don't, or entertain suggestions as to which way we should proceed? Does anybody really care if full first names are listed for British casualties? In my published and forthcoming histories of American air units, I've always striven to use complete full names and middle initials, but apparently this is less common in British source materials than in American.

If you do not wish to discuss this on the msg board, and have my direct email address, you can correspond about this directly. My TOCH message box it likely to fill up quickly, so please keep this a public discussion as much as possible. If you try and correspond by Private Message, you'll have to be patient while I clear off some space to accept new messages.

In case the question comes up in someone's mind, we are also doing similar Data Bases for Polish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian, French and Italian losses/casualties. Once published as a part of the EOE books series, we expect that this will be the basic reference source on this subject forever, at least that is our goal, and this is just one of the data base subjects and reference tools underlying the much bigger vision for the entire project.

Looking forward to your ideas and advice.

Regards,
__________________
Larry Hickey
Eagles Over Europe Project Coordinator
http://airwar-worldwar2.com

Last edited by Larry Hickey; 5th March 2011 at 23:40.
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Old 5th March 2011, 23:23
Pieter H Pieter H is offline
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Re: Need advise on data problem with British airmen's first names during the 1939-40 period

Larry, Peter,

Good point!
I've been struggeling with this myself, and have also started to add the first names to Peter's list.
I encountered the following issues:
1. In The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Britain multiple christian names are the habit, especially for those persons with Roman Catholic background. In general all these christian names are irrelevant for the type of analysis we're doing here. However, they are the offical name of the person. So the way Peter has used all initials in his first version of TBoFTaN is correct.
2. In many cases the first christian/baptismal name is the one also used in daily practice. In that case I replace the first initial by the full first name, but leave all others as initials.
E.g. Peter's original entry (all examples from May 18):

Hurricane N2464. Radiator and oil tank hit by return fire during attack on Do17s of 2./KG76 and forced-landed 10 miles south of Douai 7.00 a.m. Pilot Officer P. M. Gardner unhurt. Aircraft destroyed by pilot.

then becomes (with the change in bold):

Hurricane N2464. Radiator and oil tank hit by return fire during attack on Do17s of 2./KG76 and forced-landed 10 miles south of Douai 7.00 a.m. Pilot Officer PeterM. Gardner unhurt. Aircraft destroyed by pilot.

3. In many other cases, especially in The Netherlands, the baptismal names and daily names are quite different. Until the 1960's all Roman Catholic baptismal names in The Netherlands had to be latinized, and the daily used name could be quite different. E.g. Cornelis-Kees. In such cases I prefer to use the daily used name, so:

Hurricane N2430. Shot down by Bf110s of 5./ZG76 between Arras and Douai during attack on Do17s near base and crashed at Biache-St-Vaast 7.05 p.m. Flight Lieutenant L. S. Soden killed. Aircraft a write-off.

becomes:

Hurricane N2430. Shot down by Bf110s of 5./ZG76 between Arras and Douai during attack on Do17s near base and crashed at Biache-St-Vaast 7.05 p.m. Flight Lieutenant L. [Ian] S. Soden killed. Aircraft a write-off.

4. Finally, especially the RAF pilots extensively used nick names, such that without a lot of search effort their more formal first names are often difficult to trace back. In those cases I prefer to use the nick names:

Hurricane L1856. Shot down by ground-fire and crash-landed near St Quentin during transfer flight to Anglure 6.30 a.m. Sergeant R.A. Albonico captured. Aircraft a write-off.

then becomes:

Hurricane L1856. Shot down by ground-fire and crash-landed near St Quentin during transfer flight to Anglure 6.30 a.m. Sergeant R. [Rennie] A. Albonico captured. Aircraft a write-off.

Does this make sense?

regards, Pieter
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Old 6th March 2011, 13:28
rafcommands rafcommands is offline
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Re: Need advice on data problem with British airmen's first names during the 1939-40 period

Hmmm.

We have nearly completed the basic task of digitizing all major works relating to this subject for 1939-40, including all previous works by Peter on the subject, Bomber Command losses compiled by Chorley and Coastal Command losses by McNeill.

First I've heard of this. Time to drop me an email Larry. Your inbox is full.

Ross McNeill
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Old 7th March 2011, 13:48
paulmcmillan paulmcmillan is offline
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Re: Need advice on data problem with British airmen's first names during the 1939-40 period

I would prefer full details whenever know and including Service number and full detail..

There are a number of online sources that can be utilized to try and tie down first names

1) Officers and those that were later commissioned may be found by seraching London Gazette via Serial number (if known) and name (if you have the time) or better if the name is 'unusual'


e.g.

Pilot Officer Peter Melvill GARDNER (40527).

Flight Lieutenant Ian Scovil SODEN (33289)

Of course some of this info may also be available on CWGC if they died..

There is also the GPO Overseas Deaths lists (available also on line from some ancestry databases_ . In this case..


Soden Ian S. F/Lt 33289 56 Sqn 1940


There are also online birth registration indexes - such as findmypast


Which indicates that in 1912 a Rene A Albonico was born in Kingston Surrey

The point I am making, is that if you don't have a ful name.. Put what you do have up on here and someone may be able to work it out....
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